Westminster Abbey Thatcher memorial Margaret Thatcher bust
Politicians

Westminster Abbey to install memorial bust of Margaret Thatcher — at last!

Westminster Abbey includes the graves of many notable politicians and memorials to former prime ministers, and from the 1970s the previous Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev’d Dr John Hall, announced in 2012 that he would be commissioning memorials to Jim Callaghan and Ted Heath to join that of Harold Wilson. It was strange, you might think, for a church so increasingly meticulous about sex and gender equality, if not obsessed with matters of inclusion and diversity, that the Dean’s announcement didn’t extend to incorporate Margaret Thatcher. He explained at the time:

The men and women who have contributed most to our island story and our nation’s international influence are memorialised in the Abbey, including most prime ministers of the 19th Century and of the first half of the 20th Century. And yet no prime minister since 1956 has a memorial in the abbey. I have decided, with the support of those closest to them, to include two prime ministers from the 1970s, each of whom gave dutiful service in their own time.

Having mentioned “women who have contributed most to our island story”, it seemed churlish to omit Mrs Thatcher’s 1979 occupation of No.10 from the otherwise male-dominated 1970s (indeed, male-dominated preceding centuries); and, moreover, not to address this omission at any point over the decade since. It is even stranger when you consider that Westminster Abbey is a Royal Peculiar, independent of the Church of England hierarchy, whose Dean is accountable only to God and the Supreme Governor (not necessarily always in that order). Her Majesty the Queen led mourners at Lady Thatcher’s funeral in 2013, which was only the second time in her reign that she had so honoured one of her former prime ministers; the previous one being Sir Winston Churchill in 1965. It seems reasonable to assume, therefore, that Her Majesty would support a memorial to Margaret Thatcher in the Abbey.

The Very Rev’d Dr John Hall retired in 2019, and his successor, the Very Rev’d Dr David Hoyle, has decided to correct the oversight and restore some party-political (and sex/gender) balance to the Abbey’s collection of prime-ministerial memorials.

The above image is a visualisation of how Margaret Thatcher’s memorial bust might appear in the Abbey.

Pleasing, is it not?